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Climb Ambassadors

Michelle Bartlett

Michelle became a lung health advocate after being diagnosed with a Carcinoid Tumor in 2011.  After having half of her right lung removed, she set a goal to participate in her first climb 6 months after her recovery! Since then she has been actively participating in runs throughout the year and completed her first half marathon in 2012!  She loves challenging athletic activities and looks forward to climbing with family and friends each year on The Cupcake Climbers team! 

Debbie Burdorf

Debbie Burdorf

Meet Debbie, a true Ambassador for the Fight for Air Climb and for the American Lung Association at large. For Louisville's fight For Air Climb inaugural year Debbie organized Team Semonin, one of Louisville's largest and most successful fundraising teams. Debbie serves on the Climb planning team, speaks to community groups, recruits new climbers and participates in media interviews for the fight For Air Climb. Debbie's enthusiasm is contagious – rarely does she hears a “no” from potential Climbers. Perhaps being a 2nd degree Black Belt Tai Kwon Do and hockey mom is advantageous in convincing folks to join the Climb!  As a community connector Debbie is always on the lookout for new opportunities to get individuals and corporate groups involved. Debbie's statement: “I have gained more than I have given to this group – I believe a healthy body and mind work well together and I can see myself being involved with the Climb for years to come!” 

Marilyn Chavez

Marilyn Chavez

I grew up in a small city in northeast Ohio, dominated by the US Steel plant.   Before air pollution regulations, we could count on the plant spewing out smoke that covered our city with a coat of red dust.    It always smelled like sulfur—rotten eggs—and I remember my classmates and I sitting in our grade school classroom with a handkerchief over our noses, trying to breathe.

My dad was a heavy smoker.  As a member of the Greatest Generation, he grew up smoking as a teenager, as a soldier in World War II, and as a hard-working father supporting his family by working in a factory.    When the price of cigarettes went up to fifty cents a pack, he decided to “roll his own”—and  most Saturday nights, he’d set up the can of tobacco, little white papers and his “machine”—and the evening was spent rolling and packing up his cigarettes for the week.   No filters needed.  Eventually the air pollution from the steel plant and years of smoking caught up with him.   He fought his lung cancer for ten years, but in the end, it won.  

So, when I was asked if I wanted to volunteer with the American Lung Association, I couldn’t say no.    I wanted to do what I could to make the air we breathe better than it was in the town where I grew up.  I wanted to work to educate people about the dangers of smoking.   I want to make the world a better place, a cleaner place, for the future generation.

Michelle DeArment 

Michelle became involved with the American Lung Association in 2009 when she became an intern. She has worked on numerous climbs and has also participated in the Detroit climb. After working for the ALA, she knows just how important it is to raise awareness and funds for lung disease. She climbs for those who cannot and to inspire those who can – they just don’t know it yet! Every year she looks forward to improving her climb time and recruiting more members to join her team. 

Captain Kyle Fekete

Kyle Fekete

Kyle is a model Fight for Air Climb Ambassador, realizing firsthand the importance of physical fitness and lung health as a Louisville Fire Fighter. At the inaugural Louisville Fight For Air Climb in 2014 and the 2015 Climb, Kyle’s team took both the fastest team and the highest fundraising team awards. Kyle has been instrumental in getting firefighters to form teams, calling contacts and visiting fire stations all over the community to rally competition and participation. Kyle is concerned with the plight of firefighters with lung disease due in part to occupational hazards of fighting fires. Kyle is Climb Captain for LFD Engine 6, serves on the Climb Louisville planning committee, disseminates Climb information, organizes practices at the Louisville Fire Department Drill Tower and assists in securing professional safety personnel for event day. Kyle participates in trail running, road running and of course, the amazing fitness activities required to be a top-performing fire fighter. We are fortunate to have him as part of our Climb team! 

Margaret (Peg) Darcy

Peg Darcy

Louisville Fight for Air Climb Ambassador Peg Darcy joined the Louisville Fight For Air Climb as a participant in 2014, our inaugural year. A career educator, Peg is retired from teaching, but is fully engaged in life! She joined our Louisville Fight for Air planning team and has been a critical part of this event. Peg has stuffed packets, helped with fundraising, worked community events, assists with strategic planning and has created inspiring signage for participants.  In addition to stair climbing Peg has completed triathlons, participates in Run with our Heroes, the Urban Bourbon Mill Race, Derby Festival Races and will be participating in the Disney Half. Peg is the perfect example of age is not a factor when it comes to an active lifestyle, whether it’s tackling the stairs for a climb or hitting the pavement for a run. Peg is a key part of the Louisville Fight For Air Climb and an asset to our community!    

Heidi Leitz-Eversole

Heidi Leitz-Eversole

I first learned about the Fight for Air Climb in 2012, and as an ex-smoker who watched my grandfather die from lung cancer in 1999, it felt like a natural fit to jump on board with this cause.  I recruited some great friends and my little team was born.  Going into my fifth year as a team captain, I’m excited to be able to be more than just a participant and to help the American Lung Association as a Climb Ambassador.  I look forward to many more years of being an advocate for this great organization and encouraging others to get fit, live healthy and stop (or better yet, never start) smoking.

Lorraine Hughes

Lorraine Hughes

Lorraine Hughes has been a part of the American Lung Association in Kentucky’s volunteer team for years, taking photos of our supporters, participants and volunteers. Lorraine directs our team of five Climb photographers, who produce amazing candid and still shots on Climb day. Lorraine is also a key member of our Louisville Fight For Air Climb Planning Team. 

Lorraine: “The American Lung Association has a voice regarding the state of our air. Healthy air, water and soil are of utmost importance to our existence. Two things happened in my twenties and early thirties. I started working as an RN on an Oncology unit and quickly thereafter quit smoking. Treating patients gasping for every breath changes you. I care about our air and that’s why I volunteer for the American Lung Association.”

Tony Jorge

I climb because I am fortunate. The average person takes almost 23,000 breaths a day. For me, those breaths come and go without a struggle or pain. But I know that is not the case for everyone. For those affect by lung diseases, each unchallenged breath must be cherished, for the next one may not. I have seen what happens for those who are affected and I cannot possibly fully understand the pain and fright breathing issues cause. My time with the lung association and it’s events is a reminder to me that we still have a battle to fight out there and I want to be a part of it! My day job is relatively boring and sedentary. So when I am not at work, I like to be as active and adventurous as possible. That includes running, hiking, working out, rock climbing and various combinations of all of these.  Spending time with my wonderful family is also a top priority for me, so sometimes I’ll take them along! As a father of three wonderful children, I hope that my children will one day be able to raise children of their own in a better world, in a better environment, where everyone can breathe easier.

Keita Marville

Keita Marville

 I am passionate about being an ambassador for the American Lung Association Columbus chapter because as an asthmatic and a person who enjoys giving back, I felt the need to take on more of a leadership role in raising awareness for lung health and disease.  Being in a leadership role will allow me to assist more in the process of putting together events that will draw more folks along with raise more money for our cause.  The Columbus chapter has so much room for growth and I am truly excited to be a part of it. GO BUCKS!

Traci Mehalic

I climb for those who cannot.  I climb to help raise awareness and funds for all of our friends and loved ones who suffer from lung disease.  I climb in honor of my dad who lost his life to lung cancer.

I climb to inspire and promote healthy living.  As a mother of three, I serve as a positive role model.  As an endurance athlete, I push myself and my competitors to be the best that they can be.  As a personal trainer, I help my clients achieve their goals and embark on healthier lives.


Matthew Morin

Matthew Morin

 I am a major supporter of the Detroit climb and have been for as many years as it has existed.  I support many different causes and am not afraid to invite (and pressure) others to get involved.  I am also a very good stair climber and the ambassador program is a great opportunity to get more people involved and to drive more fundraising to worthy cause.

Pete Richardson

My dad was diagnosed several years ago with a rare and unusual form of asthma. It came on suddenly and completely turned his life, and his health, upside down. If you know me or dad personally, you are well aware of all of the life changes that have resulted from this affliction. As a firefighter/paramedic I make my living by helping people, and my dad's case there just anything I can directly do to help. This leads to a feeling of helplessness the first few years of his disease. Then I heard about the ALA Stair Climb for firefighters and I realized THIS is what I could do to help him and people like him! My fundraising efforts lead directly to research, advocacy, and education on behalf of all Americans who struggle to breathe.

I have now made it my passion to raise as much money as possible annually for the American Lung Association by taking donations towards my climb to the top of a nearly 50 story building in my full firefighter gear. Each year my friends and family, and even complete strangers, have blown me away with the amount of money they contribute to this cause on my behalf. This year I have set a personal goal of $2000 in fundraising and I am certain I can surpass that goal with your help. Over the last five years my teams have raised nearly $25,000 towards the goals of the American Lung Association, and this year we will keep making a real difference, together!

Valerie Schave

Valerie Schave

 I am a very active individual and I work hard at setting a good example for others.  I live with Type 1 diabetes so chronic medical conditions are not unfamiliar to me.  I use an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor and although some days are a struggle, I try to prove to myself and others that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.  My motto is, "Be as active as you can, for as long as you can."  You just never know when life will throw you a curve. I’ve lost several good friends suddenly and shockingly to lung cancer and know many others who have lost loved ones or suffer themselves with lung related illnesses.  Supporting the American Lung Association through events like the "Fight for Air Climb" is just one small way I can contribute to the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air. Whether it is asthma or COPD or lung cancer - nothing is scarier that struggling to breathe.  Participating in ALA events remind me that I can make a difference and I hope to inspire others to do the same.

Miriam Sigfried

 My name is Miriam Siegfried, lung disease has touched my life in many ways.  I am a lifelong asthmatic and was not able to participate is sports or physical activities as a child.  Fortunately with better available medicines I am now able to exercise, bike ride, ski and climb 40 flights of stairs!  In 2013 my niece Sara Siegfried was diagnosed with a large tumor in her lung and spent quite a bit of time on a respirator following surgery.  I participated in my first Columbus Fight for Air Climb on her behalf in hope for her recovery to good health.  I’m happy to share that she made a full recovery.  In 2014 my brother Mark Leon Chait was diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease and entered the care of Hospice.  I climbed in 2014 in support of his struggle and his fight for air.  Sadly my brother Mark passed away in June 2014.  In 2015 and 2016 I climbed in my brother Mark’s memory.  I support the Fight for Air Climb to help raise funds for lung health research and awareness and in hopes that someday others won’t be touched by lung disease as my family has been.

Kristie Stocker

Kristie Stocker

Kristie has a true heart for inspirational speaking, leadership training and mentoring.  She's Co-Captain of Climbatize, one of the largest and enthusiastic teams in the Detroit climb going on 4 years. Her passion is to inspire, encourage and motivate people to achieve great things in life. Kristie has extensive experience in leading teams, community building, training and speaking. Her staple is maintaining a positive attitude and motivating others to do the same. You can usually see her playing with her three Ibizan Hounds, working out, writing on her blog "3 Scoops of Inspiration" or laughing with friends. She lives on "purpose".

Mark Tremmel

I climb because it is a physical challenge, because the ALA is a worthy and reputable cause, and because It's a matter of life and breath.

Jenn Whitbeck

Jenn Whitbeck

 This organization is important to us as firefighters to help us fight against the elements we battle on a daily basis.  I love to help spread the word about this event to help raise funds for my brothers and sisters in the fire service and those of the public we have sworn to protect and serve.

Bridget Williams

I climb for Lois Williams.  A loving wife, mother and grandmother, she was a force of nature and a ray of sunshine.  She seemed to have happiness and optimism radiating from every ounce of her being.  Her joie de vivre was contagious and ensured that her fans were many and enemies few.

Like many of her contemporaries, Lois started smoking way too young, unaware of the health risks associated with a pre-teen quest to look cool and grown up.  She managed to quit decades later, but the damage had already been done.

In the early 2000s, when my daughter was just a toddler, an investigation into Lois’ persistent cough led to a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer.  Even in the face of daunting odds she remained upbeat and resolved to beat the disease, smiling even as her blond locks were shorn off in advance of chemotherapy.  She achieved a brief reprieve of remission before the beast reared its ugly head once again, spreading with a ferocity too strong for her to overcome.  I will never forget the last time we saw her: she was so ill it pained her to move, but still managed to sing a silly song and clap along as my daughter pounded out some semblance of a melody on al xylophone.   

My hope that is by participating in events and raising funds for the American Lung Association that people, particularly young people, will understand the grave consequences involved with smoking and think twice about picking up the habit and that others affected by lung disease, whether related to smoking or not, can enjoy greater longevity and an improved quality of life as a result of ALA-funded research.

    Page Last Updated: August 28, 2017

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